Made in Florida Industry Tours for MFG Month Inspires Next Generation of Engineers

Manufacturing Day/Month was celebrated and observed on a wide scale basis across Florida as manufacturers across the state once
again braced for one of the biggest events of the year that defines the strength of American Manufacturing. FLATE, the Florida-based National Science Foundation Regional Center of Excellence, together with its network of statewide industry partners, FloridaMakes, and Hillsborough Manufacturing Alliance worked cohesively to coordinate industry tours and events across the state. RMA’s that partnered with FLATE included Bay Area Manufacturers Association, Upper Tampa Bay Manufacturers Association, Manufacturers Association of Central Florida, Mid-Florida Regional Manufacturers Association, Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association, and Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association. Other organizations that partnered and took an active role in organizing MFG Day/Month events included: Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council, Florida TRADE at Pasco Hernando College, AMSkills, Career Pathways at Polk State College, Atlantic Technical Center, Hoerbiger Corporation, and Goodwill Industries. Additionally school districts across Florida that worked closely with FLATE and its network of industry partners to coordinate tours and arrange transportation for students, chaperones and educators to and from industry sites. These included School District of Hillsborough County, Pinellas School District, Orange County Public Schools, Brevard County Schools, Lake County Schools, Osceola County Schools, Marion Schools, Sarasota County Schools & Career and Technical Education, Manatee County Schools, and Lee Schools.

FLATE’s commitment and rationale behind MFG Day/Month initiative is crystallized in a broader perspective. In that it involves an
inclusive strategy to build, support and empower each of its stakeholders to champion causes that are geared to sustain a long-term commitment to MFG Day initiative, position manufacturing industry as a vital part of the economic engine, and attract the next generation of high-tech workers to consider manufacturing as viable and lucrative career pathway. This year MFG Day in Florida was eclipsed to a certain extent by the effect of hurricane Matthew which hurled through the state at the kick off of MFG Day/Month. Then too, there was widespread participation and interest from school districts and industry partners alike to participate in MFG Day with a number of industry tours and events taking place in Florida throughout October, into November, December, and some even scheduled for January 2017. In looking at the preliminary numbers from statewide industry tours, as of October 2016 over 4700 middle and high school students, 55 parents/chaperones and teachers across Florida participated in approximately 160 Made in Florida industry tours to 115 high-tech industries. Counties and cities across Florida issued proclamations acknowledging October 7 as the official kick off to MFG Day and October as MFG Month.

A cornerstone of FLATE’s MFG Day initiative lies in its strategy to survey ALL industry tour participants to include students,
teachers/chaperones and industry hosts. The surveys serve as a yardstick for measuring the impact and effect of the industry tours, and gauging opportunities for improvement for next MFG Day. Of the 451 student surveys received so far, there was a  77.5% increase in consideration of careers in advanced manufacturing. Nearly 97.6% of the students who responded stated the tour helped them understand how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is put to work in advanced manufacturing industries. Approximately 94.5% of those surveyed also stated they would recommend that other students have the opportunity to go on a similar tour. Nearly 96% also agreed the tour gave them new information about careers in advanced manufacturing. In looking at gender-based demographics, 59% of the students were girls compared to 40% boys. 

In addition to the student surveys, industry hosts also regarded the tours as a valuable investment of their time and
resources. Of the industry tour host surveys received so far, 100% stated the tour was a good use of company time and resources. “It was an opportunity for us to share what our company is about and to show the kids that manufacturing is and can be a great career choice” stated one of the respondents to the survey. Another industry tour host also stated that the tour was a “nice way to show future generations the type of equipment that many manufacturers use for quality control. Most of the students didn't know anything about the equipment and were excited to see it in action.

FLATE also surveyed educators/chaperones and parents to gauge their response to the tours and the curriculum. Of the surveys
received by FLATE from educators/chaperone, 100% of the respondents stated they would recommend other students have the opportunity to participate in a Made in Florida industry tour. Nearly 95% of educators and parents stated they found the tour helpful in understanding Florida high-tech jobs and career opportunities. As in previous years, FLATE also designed and distributed MFG Day T-shirts to statewide stakeholders participating in an industry tour, and designed a MFG Day poster and curriculum that educators could use as part their everyday curriculum. FLATE will compile additional/remaining surveys and tabulate results and report on the impact of remaining tours in subsequent editions of the FLATE Focus. 

MFG Day also stirred media attention across the state. This year FLATE worked closely with the Manufacturing Alliance of Hillsborough County and FloridaMakes on several pres-related initiatives that created quite a buzz. You can read the news stories in the side bar of this edition of the FLATE Focus. The curtain may be drawn on MFG Day in rest of the country, but here in the sunshine state there are still MFG Day/Month industry tours scheduled November through January 2017. Stay tuned for updates about these tours across FLATE's social networking platforms, or tweet us @Made_InFlorida #FLMFGMonth16.  


For now FLATE would like to thank ALL its statewide partners and its staff for their part in making MFG Day/Month a success in Florida. For more information on FLATE’s statewide strategy for manufacturing day/month visit www.mfgday-fl.com. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org, or at 813.259.6578.